December 10, 2010

The story of how Frank Barning became a blogger

Becoming a blogger was triggered when the Barnings attended a poolside 4th of July community party here in Las Vegas. One of the activities was an arts and crafts sale and we were invited by my coffee klatsch friend Bob Normandin to drift on over to see what was going on. Grudgingly, I left the free ice cream being served a few steps from the pool.

As we squeezed out the door after 10 minutes at the art show, we happened upon a couple I did not know, Chris and Mike Cutler. Bob knew Chris from a committee he chaired which was seeking ideas to improve our senior community's monthly magazine.

Within a couple of minutes, I realized that Chris had some of the same interests as I, namely writing, communications and photography. Somehow the subject of blogging came up. It turned out that I was vaguely interested in learning how to blog and she was an accomplished blogger more than willing to teach me.

At that point, I really did not know much about blogging, but was looking for an outlet to expand my efforts of keeping communications alive among early Division Avenue High School alumni. Facebook is a very useful tool, but for me there are limitations. Written comments are mostly done in a few short sentences and disappear after a day or so.

I wanted an outlet that would involve real stories that could have a long life on the internet. Back about six years, I published an alumni newsletter that lasted maybe two years. It was emailed to about 50 people. After a while, I hooked up with something called and my newsletters were included on the website. Although is no longer active because the webmaster Trina Cattler Wallace (class of 1975) passed away, the site still lives in cyberspace.

A couple of days later, Chris paid a visit to our home and gave me about an hour's tutorial. My background in journalism and computers made much of what she explained understandable. She plugged me into something called "", helped me register and now I had a way to blog. I am making it sound easier than it is to get started in blogging, but hopefully you get the picture.

On July 13, I entered my first post on what I named "Early Levittown and Beyond." Originally, it was going to be called "The World According to Frank Barning" but my wife thought that title was more than a bit pompous. Here we are nearly five months later and I have made more than 160 posts and have received upwards of 11,000 hits.

The difficult part for me is coming up with something to post every day. It is my personality to want to have something new on a daily basis. And here is the good part for me, a long-retired person who had been totally unable to find anything to do as a volunteer. I consider my blog to be volunteer work, service to my community. And because I want to post something every day, it has re-stimulated my creative talents.

My somewhat dormant mind has been stimulated to the point where my writing skills seem to have returned to a level that I thought was in the past, never to return. The body may be showing some of the ravages of age, but not my brain. However, I must admit that sometimes I cannot find my cell phone or car keys and cannot remember the name of the movie we saw yesterday.

Most of the people who follow my blog attended Division Avenue High in Levittown, classes 1960-63. Some of the younger kids, LOL, from classes in a handful of years after 1963 are also on board. Younger to me is anyone not yet old enough for Medicare.

Obviously, the vast majority of the 11,000-plus hits are from people living in the United States. This I know because statistics are available when I log on to the blog website. There are many hits from Israel because Roya Sitkoff '61 lives there. Roya's classmate, the author Michael Haag, lives in England and is an avid reader. My second-cousin Karina Hof lives much of the year in Amsterdam, so there are hits from Holland. When 1961 grad Arnie Galeota was being an expatriate in Panama for a couple months, there was a total of 32 hits from that country.

It is exciting to see hits coming from Russia, Denmark, the United Arab Emirates, France, Slovenia, Germany, Greece, Ireland and a Caribbean island I had never heard of, Anguilla. There was a steady stream from Italy when Chris Cutler vacationed there for a month. I wish I knew who was reading the blog in some of these countries. One of the younger Division Avenue grads, Dave Phillips, is an airline flight engineer who regularly flies all over the globe. He recently wrote to report that he was enjoying the blog during a layover in Hong Kong.

So that's the story of Early Levittown and Beyond. Thanks for your interest, and please keep the hits coming.


Roya said...

Hey Frank, the first thing I do when I log on is to check for your latest blog. You bring back so many memories and enable people who have not been in touch for almost 50 years to renew friendships. Please keep writing.
Best regards, Roya

Anonymous said...

Frank, you've never lost your edge. Your blogs are a wonderful source of memories of friends and high school. The pictures alone take me back half a century and my former classmates' contributions have been a pleasure to read as well. You say doing the blog has been a good thing for you. I think your readers and followers are the fortunate ones. Thank you my friend, Pat McD

Denise Kaegi Byers said...

Just found your spot, Cannot wait to investigate...My sister Karen told me about this spot. I lived down the street from Dave Phillips and am even wondering if he knows what the names of the owners of the Midway Farms store might be, across from the Grand Union on Jerusalem Ave and where the old Carvel used to be.The store had black cat on the signage and the owners lived next door in a home separate from the Store...